Indonesia ditches mask-wearing

JAKARTA, 20 May 2022: Indonesia eased its Covid-19 rules earlier this week, ending the need to wear masks outdoors and undergo PCR or antigen tests pre-flight or on arrival in the country.

The change places Indonesia alongside Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore as some of the easiest countries to enter across Southeast Asia. They all allow fully vaccinated tourists to enter without restrictions or the need to wear a mask outdoors.

In Indonesia, mask-wearing will still apply when travelling on public transport or visiting crowded indoor areas,

The new health protocols regarding masks and tests were announced by the country’s President Joko Widodo on Tuesday.

Commenting on the decision, the Minister of Transportation, Budi Karya Sumadi said: “We believe this policy can be a turning point for the revival of the transportation sector, which also contributes to the revival of the Indonesian economy,”.

The Minister of Transportation said that the “decision to implement the relaxation programme took into account the situation and conditions of the Covid-19 pandemic in Indonesia, which was increasingly under control.”

More than 65 million Indonesians travelled during the Eid al Fitr holiday earlier in May, while the seven-day rolling average for Covid-19 cases currently stands at 360 new infections. Indonesia has double vaccinated 166.25 million residents, or 60.8% of the population.

Under the new rules, if people engage in outdoor activities or in uncrowded open areas, they do not need to wear masks. However, for activities in closed spaces such as shopping malls and public transportation, they should continue to wear masks.

People who are categorised as being vulnerable such as the elderly,  those who have cold or cough symptoms and those suffering from chronic respiratory diseases, should wear masks.

In a circular to the media, the Ministry of Transportation also confirmed that fully vaccinated travellers (two doses) entering the country by air, land, and sea do not need to undergo PCR or Antigen swab testing.

Most travellers are also eligible for a Visa-on-Arrival, and as long as they are fully vaccinated, there is no need to quarantine or test.

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that the remaining virus restrictions would come up for review on 23 May, when the government would evaluate rules mostly setting capacity limits and when opening hours could also be phased out.